Woman pleads guilty in Inuit identity fraud case, charges dropped against daughters

Guilty plea in Inuit fraud

A Toronto woman pleaded guilty Friday in an Inuit identity fraud case as charges against her twin daughters were dropped.

Karima Manji, 59, and her 25-year-old daughters, Amira and Nadya Gill, had faced charges of fraud over $5,000.

The three women appeared virtually from Ontario at a court hearing in Iqaluit, and Manji pleaded guilty. She is to be sentenced in June.

"She wanted to take responsibility for this," Manji's lawyer, John Scott Cowan, said in an interview.

Crown prosecutor Sarah White said in an email that Manji pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000, and the charges against the woman's daughters were withdrawn.

Nunavut RCMP charged the three women in September, after receiving a complaint that they used Inuit status to defraud two organizations.

An agreed statement of facts entered into court says Manji gave birth to her daughters in Mississauga, Ont., in September 1998.

In February 2016, the document says Manji completed an "Enrolment Form for Inuit Children" for each daughter.

"The purpose ... is to enrol Inuit children in the Nunavut Tunngavik land claim," says the statement. "People enrolled as such are officially beneficiaries of the land claim."

The process is jointly run by Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

"In the enrolment forms, Karima Manji included information that Nadya and Amira were Inuit children, that their birth mother was an Iqaluit woman named Kitty Noah, and that Karima Manji was the adoptive mother of the children," says the document.

Court heard Manji sent in the enrolment forms and both applications were approved. Enrolment cards were issued for both daughters.

"Karima Manji, being the birth mother of Amira and Nadya, provided false information on the enrolment forms about Nadya and Amira's birth and eligibility for enrolment," says the statement.

It says she gave her daughters the fraudulent enrolment cards, and they were unaware the cards were fraudulent.

Court heard both daughters received sponsorship funding from the Kakivak Association, an organization that provides funding to Baffin Inuit for education-related expenses.

Nadya and Amira Gill received $158,254 from September 2020 to March 2023, says the document. Another $64,000 was on hold for Amira Gill in the spring of 2023 but was not paid out.

"An investigation into the false Inuit status of the Gill sisters was initiated by the family of Kitty Noah raising the issue," the document says.

Both daughters were removed from the enrolment list in April, court was told.

Manji also submitted an application in 2018 for herself, claiming she was adopted by Inuit parents, but that application was unsuccessful, says the statement.

Manji has a criminal record for fraud. In August 2017, she received a conditional sentence of two years less a day, followed by one year of probation, for fraud over $5,000.

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